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23 January 2021: The Hindu Editorial Analysis

1) A new framework around caste and the census.

There needs to be closer engagement between all stakeholders of the Census and the Socio-Economic and Caste Census.

GS-1: population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.

GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.  


  1. The Census and the Socio-Economic Caste Census and how it has been used and understood by the government and its various departments for welfare of the people.
  2. All types of Census and Concerns about its methodology, relevance, rigour, dissemination, transparency and privacy need to be taken seriously and engage all stakeholders of the Census and the Socio-Economic and Caste Census.


About the Census:

  1. The first complete census of India was conducted in 1830 by Henry Walter (father of census in India) in Dacca (now Dhaka). In this census the statistics of the population with sex, broad age group, and the houses with their amenities were collected. Second Census was conducted in 1836-37 by Fort St.
  2. Census beginning in 1872 under British Viceroy Lord Mayo, the first complete census was taken in 1881. Post 1949, it has been conducted by the Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India under the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India.
  3. The Census and the SECC have different purposes. Since the Census falls under the Census Act of 1948, all data are considered confidential, whereas according to the SECC website,
  4. The all personal information given in the Socio Economic Caste Census (SECC) is open for use by Government departments to grant and/or restrict benefits to households.


Use of Census:

  1. The Indian Census is the most credible source of information on Demography (Population characteristics), Economic Activity, Literacy and Education, Housing & Household Amenities,
  2. It’s also use in Urbanization, Fertility and Mortality, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, Language, Religion, Migration, Disability and many other social factors.
  3. Census has been used by the government, policy makers, academics, and others to capture the Indian population, its access to resources, and to map social change.
  4. The Census as both a data collection effort and a technique of governance, and social welfare schemes and planning.
  5. The Census may be fact produce an imagination of society, which suggests the epistemological complexities involved.
  6. The delimitation exercise and delimitation of state and central democratize process and election.
  7. Census data on the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes on certain parameters such as education have been collected, help in planning and welfare scheme for SC, ST.
  8. It’s  inclusion of broader caste information as a necessity to capture contemporary Indian society and to understand and remedy inequalities,


Issue in census:

  1. Census is blunt instrument unsuited for specialized enquiry.
  2. Census not quite useful enough for a detailed and comprehensive understanding of a complex society.
  3. Census is the discussion around caste and its enumeration has been controversial, may discriminatory and divided the society.
  4. The large administrative exercise of capturing caste and its complexities is not only difficult, but also socially untenable, and may be give false figure.   
  5. Lot of time and expensive process involve in it  the Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC) was conducted in 2011 and took a few years to complete;


The main concerns:

  1. It would be disingenuous to ignore the emotive element of caste and the political and social repercussions of a caste census.
  2. There have been concerns that counting caste may help solidify or harden identities, or that caste may be context-specific, and thus difficult to measure.
  3. The question over whether an institution such as caste can even be captured completely by the Census.
  4.  Whether the SECC take into account the nuances that shape caste and simultaneously the ways in which caste shapes everyday life in India.
  5.  The Census thus provides a portrait of the Indian population, while the SECC is a tool to identify beneficiaries of state support.


A road map:

  1. It has been used and understood by the government and its various departments to grant or withdraw benefits, and also its utility for the important academic exercise of mapping social inequalities and social change.
  2. The National Sample Surveys or the National Family Health Surveys that cover issues that the Census exercises do not, such as maternal health, would be significant for a more comprehensive analysis, enabling the utilization of the large body of data that already exists.
  3.  Census operations across the world are going through significant changes, employing methods that are precise, faster and cost effective, involving coordination between different data sources.
  4. Care must however be taken to ensure that digital alternatives and linking of data sources involving Census operations are inclusive and non-discriminatory, especially given the sensitive nature of the data being collected.


How is Census-2021 different from Previous Ones?

  1.  The Census 2021 will be conducted in 18 languages out of the 22 scheduled languages (under 8th schedule) and English, while Census 2011 was in 16 of the 22 scheduled languages declared at that time.
  2. It is for the first time the data is collected digitally via mobile applications with a provision of working in offline mode.
  3.  The data collected by enumerator on his/her phone will be registered with the Census authorities.
  4. No document will be required by the citizens to be shown as proof, and self-declaration will suffice the same
  5. Census Monitoring & Management Portal will act as a single source for all officers/ officials involved in Census activities to provide multi-language support.
  6. The latest Census will not collect caste data. While the Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) was conducted alongside Census 2011, the outcome of the caste Census is yet to be made public.
  7. The first time that information of households headed by a person from the transgender community and members living in the family will be collected. Earlier there was a column for male and female only.
  8. The Census data would be available by the year 2024-25 as the entire process would be conducted digitally and data crunching would be quicker

Time lag and planning

  1. Apart from themes specific to enumerating caste, there are other issues that the Census and the SECC in particular face.
  2.  The first relates to the time lag between each Census, and the second to the delay in the release of data.
  3. The first of these is inherent in the way the Census exercises are planned. The second, however, also has important repercussions to understanding social change since data may remain un-released or released only in parts.
  4.  Nearly a decade after the SECC for instance, a sizeable amount of data remains unreleased.
  5. While the Census authorities present documents on methodology as part of a policy of transparency,
  6. There are needs to be a closer and continuous engagement between functionaries of the Census and SECC, along with academics and other stakeholders concerned, since the Census and the SECC are projects of governance as well as of academic interest.



  1. Before another SECC is conducted, a stocktaking of the previous exercise, of what has been learnt from it, and what changes are necessary, beyond changing exclusionary criteria for beneficiaries of state support, are crucial to enable the Census to facilitate effective policy work and academic reflection.
  2. Concerns about methodology, relevance, rigour, dissemination, transparency and privacy need to be taken seriously care.
  3. These reforms are essential to ensure that the census exercise is able to fulfill its constitutional, policy and statistical obligations and also clear the ground for debates on the future of census in the digital era.
  4. The integrated approach should be flow for because; Census in India is the largest single source of a variety of statistical information on different characteristics of the people of India. It is a sacred democratic exercise.


2) A pick between dark politics or collective resistance.

The democratic world has a choice — either accepts the politics of violence or kindle the urge to resist the status quo.

GS-2: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian Diaspora.

GS-4: regulations and conscience as sources of ethical guidance; accountability and ethical governance; strengthening of ethical and moral values in governance; ethical issues in international relations.


All politics is a struggle for power; the ultimate kind of power is violence.” — C. Wright Mills.

  1. Donald Trump’s drive to connect a legitimate election has shaken faith in the functioning of democracy worldwide.
  2. Subsumed in the violence of fear and hatred, political polarization, social discrimination, it is not Mr. Trump who is solely responsible. The people are as much to be blamed.
  3. Politicians across the globe sink to new levels of unwarranted incitement of a malleable public, a disastrous and politically debasing tendency of constitutional democracy.


History as a pointer

  1. The loss of faith in the ruling elite points towards a disturbing future. The long and cyclic dark history of civilization, of wars and violence, of religious fanaticism and irrationality is a loud indication of the failure to model society on rational principles.
  2. The trajectory of liberal democracy evolving into totalitarianism is evidently present in the brute forces of Italian fascism or German Nazism, two striking examples of the birth of vulgar nationalist fervor and racial superiority.
  3. The judging by the history of violence, political participation has the potential of making people more irrational, prejudiced and mean.
  4. The power and brutality of state violence therefore stands legitimised while justifiable or innocent violence accompanying demonstrations against racism or police ferocity result in ruthless consequences.


Evasive promise

Philosophical democratic theory is, therefore, rather perplexing. One aspect is the idolised view of democracy as an inimitably just form of government where people have the right to equal share of political power that empowers the people.

Essential Conditions for Democracy:

  1. There may be two major categories: (a) political conditions, and (b) social and economic conditions – the fulfillment of the first leads to political democracy and the second as social democracy.
  2. A democratic system has to ensure that the social development is in tune with democratic values and norms reflecting equality of social status and opportunities for development, social security and social welfare.



  1. Illiteracy among people was a matter of grave concern for the successful functioning of democracy in India on the eve of independence and it still continues to be a major challenge.
  2. Poverty is considered as the greatest bane of democracy. It is, in fact, the root cause of all kinds of deprivations and inequalities. It is the state of denial of opportunities to people to lead a healthy and fulfilling life,
  3. Discrimination against girls and women exists in every walk of life. You must have had such experiences of prevailing gender inequality in our society and polity. But we know that gender equality is one of the basic principles of democracy.
  4. The Indian democracy faces serious challenges also from casteism, communalism and religious fundamentalism. They weaken the functioning and stability of democratic system.
  5. Indian democracy has also been struggling with regionalism which is primarily an outcome of regional disparities and imbalances in development.
  6. India’s ranking in the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI-2019) has slipped from 78 to 80 compared to the previous year, by Transparency International. one of biggest challenge for India.
  7. Criminalization of politics in India has become a debatable issue. There have been allegations that there are some elements in politics that do not have faith in democratic values and practices.
  8. Political Violence: Violence has been with us for long, but use of violence for political end is dangerous for the existence of any system. In India we have been witnessing various forms of violence.
  9. Communal violence, caste violence and political violence in general have attained serious proportion. Communal riots are engineered by vested interests for political, religious and economic reasons. Caste violence in various shapes has been increasing.


Reason for political violence in democracy:

  1. A serious conflict of interests has emerged between higher, race, cast, and ethnic this has led to aggressive competition for political power which many a time leads to violence.
  2. Polarization by political party and by leader on the name of cast, religion, greed, sex, place of birth and so on.


Who check democratic Violence:  (devices of democracy)

  1. the existence of multiple political parties;
  2. The  free, fair, and regular elections whereby adult citizens vote to choose between candidates of these parties;
  3. the freedom of the press, including the electronic media;
  4. There is  an independent judiciary;
  5. The freedom to live, work, and own property anywhere in the country of which one is a citizen, and to associate with other citizens in the manner of one’s choosing.



  1. Recognizing the failures of the past while retaining hope for the future, we need to develop a critique of violence within democracies that is adequate to the times.
  2.  There is always a political struggle basic to the recognition of evident and hidden forms of injustice and violence that make people mindful of it, deliberate on it, and act.
  3. Elections are key elements of democratic processes. They provide for transparent and peaceful change of government and distribution of power. For this reason, a strong emphasis on democratization world need international policy,
  4. Support to strengthen institutional capacity to promote democratic norms and to ensure democratic rule of law is now seen as crucial for peacebuilding.
  5. Elections and democracy promotion have thus become central strategies to build peace in countries shattered by violent conflict.
  6. To build a strong, democratic and peaceful society, based on the rule of law, accountability and transparency.
  7. Focus on citizen at large may feel constrained to openly and freely voice political views, engage in public debates, and organize them politically.
  8. Support an independent electoral agency to assess and evaluate different capacities among actors for specific tasks.